Making Democracy Work

Criminal/Juvenile Justice

State Prison System By Emily Bohatch of The State Newspaper


School-to-Prison Pipeline

The massacre of children by their classmates on schoolyards across the country in recent decades was a powerful impetus in the widespread adoption of "zero tolerance" disciplinary policies.

Anxious administrators and parents wanted to keep children safe in the classroom. They responded to the surge in juvenile crime in the 1980's and 1990's by incorporating police, or School Resource Officers (SRO's) into the school setting. According to the New York Times, police patrolled just 1% of schools in the mid-1970's. By 2008, 40% of schools employed SRO's.

A growing body of research is demonstrating that zero tolerance policies have cast a much wider net than originally intended, trapping a disproportionate percentage of minority children in the criminal justice system for what in the past were youthful indiscretions handled in the principal's office. This has become known as the "School-to-Prison Pipeline."

The League of Women Voters of South Carolina (LWVSC) opposes zero tolerance policies in schools, and supports alternatives to the increasing criminalization of the actions of young adults.

Dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

New York Times
"With Police in Schools, More Children in Court" by Erik Eckholm

Alliance for Excellent Education
South Carolina Fact Sheet

Alliance for Excellent Education
Issue Brief: Saving Futures, Saving Dollars: The Impact of Education on Crime Reduction and Earnings

Sentencing Reform